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A 19th Century Evangelical Organizer

Evangelist Catherine Booth (1829-1890), cofounder of the Salvation Army, was also an excellent organizer. Her "Maiden Tribute Campaign" lasted from July 1884 until August 1885 when parliament raised the legal age of girls from 12 to 16 years. The campaign against child prostitution started with a series of ten newspaper articles in a 12,000 circulation paper which soon reached over one million! Then she led mass meetings of up to 5,000. She sought and partly gained a voluntary ally of Queen Victoria.  Finally the army presented a petition  with 393,000. What a series of actions by this evangelical Christian organizer! For further information see Catherine Booth (CB) by Roger J. Green, BakerBooks, 1996, p. 253-260 and The Life of Catherine Booth (LCB) by F. de L. Booth-Tucker, Vol. 2., Revell, 1896, p. 464-483. Quotes below from these sources.

Excerpts of 1st letter to the Queen June 3, 1885
     "... I feel sure that if your Majesty could only be made acquainted with the awful sacrifice of infant purity, health, and happiness, to the vices of the evil-minded men who oppose the raising of the age, your mother's heart would bleed with pity. ... I feel that your womanly feelings would be roused to indignation, and that your Majesty would make the remaining years of your glorious reign even more illustrious ... to save the female children of your people from a fate worse than that of slaves or savages. May He who is the Avenger of the oppressed, incline the heart of your Majesty to come to His help in this matter, prays Yours, on behalf of the innocents, Catherine Booth 
(response) "Her Majesty, fully sympathizing with Mrs. Booth on the painful subject to which the letter refers, has already had communication thereon with a lady closely connected with the Government, to whom Mrs. Booth's letter will be immediately forwarded." (CB, p. 255-256)

Excerpts of letter to Prime Minister E. E. Gladstone 
     "My heart has been so oppressed of late with the awful disclosures forced upon us in connection with our movement throughout the kingdom ... insist upon the re-introduction of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill .. I think I may thoughtfully say that I represent hundreds of thousands of the working classes in this request ... I would entreat you ... to raise the age of the responsibility of girls to seventeen ...
(reply) "Mr. Gladstone ... fears he cannot at a moment like the present ... examine personally the questions you touch on ... forward(ed) your communication to the Home Secretary ..." (LCB, p. 476-477)

From four letters to daughter Emma
"I wrote to the Queen on Thursday about it, and received a most gracious reply. ... All this on the top of our other work is killing. However, I have felt better the last few days. ...
     "These fiends perpetrating such hellish crimes as these! It is a wonder that the people do not lynch them and burn their houses about their ears! ... Pray that we may be able to burst up this machinery of hell. ... Pray for me. Oh, if I were only - but it is of no use wishing. You young ones must take my place and do better. I am writing Lord Salisbury, who is now Prime Minister, a somewhat similar letter to the one I sent Mr. Gladstone on the question. We are determined to have the law altered. ...
     "I am more distressed than I can say at being just now so helpless physically, However, I am mending, and hope to be able to address two meetings on the subject ... The excitement in the city and in the House of Commons yesterday was unparalleled for many years gone by. They say there was nothing else talked about in the House. ... we see no way to mend the evil but by fighting it out. I know you will pray for us ... God will preserve us, and perhaps use us to do a great work of deliverance for thousands of poor helpless girls. ...
     "We had a grand time at Exeter Hall last night; ... Two Members of Parliament spoke. The Hall crowded to its utmost capacity. ... We are trying to arrange a meeting in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, on Monday, and we have meeting for women only in Exeter Hall on Thursday nest. ... I felt as though I must go and walk the streets and besiege the dens where these hellish iniquities are going on. To keep quiet seemed like being a traitor for humanity. Oh, it has been a fearful time. However, God has helped me to speak. ... the truth I uttered electrified the people till they could hardly sit on their seats. They shouted and clapped and wept in all directions. I have rested better the last two nights. Pray for me." (LCB, p.479-81)

A second and third letter to the Queen - July 14, 1885
     "... legislation will not effect what requires to be done. .. it would be a great encouragement to thousands of those engaged in this struggle if your Majest would at this juncture graciously send us a word of sympathy and encouragement to be read at our mass meetings in different part s of the kingdom, the first of which takes place on Thursday evening next at Exeter Hall. All ow me to add that it would cheer your Majesty to hear the responses of immense audiences in different parts of the land ...
(reply) "... the Queen feels very deeply on the subject ... it would not be desirable for the Queen to express any opinion upon the matter  ... of a Measure before Parliament."
A new tact
     "... I fully appreciate the delicacy of Her Majesty's position at the present juncture. ... I wish to be allowed to convey to the people of England that Her Majesty is fully with us in abhorrence of the iniquities ... I am proposing therefore to read the note which Her Majesty has been pleased to send me by your Grace at a meeting of 5,000 people on Monday night in London, and also at large meetings in Yorkshire ... send a line ...or telegraph if Her Majesty objects to my proposition ... Otherwise, I will conclude that I may use the letter in the manner I have indicated. Catherine Booth" 
"With no response forthcoming, Catherine assured people in her public addresses that the heart of the queen was with them in this cause!" (CB, p. 256-8)

The clincher action of the petition announced July 18, 1885
     "The Booths wrote a petition to the House which in the course of seventeen days received 393,000 signatures. The petition was nearly two miles in length and was coiled up into an immense roll bound and draped with Salvation Army colors - yellow, red, and blue. The petition was then conveyed through London to Trafalgar Square, accompanied by an escort of mothers and the men cadets' band. To comply with the law that no procession should approach within a mile of Westminster when the House was in session, the petition was then carried down Whitehall on the shoulders of eight cadets and laid on the floor of the House because there was not sufficient room on the customary commons table. ...
     "The Home Secretary decided to resume debate on the Criminal Law Amendment Act, and on August 14, 1885, after a third reading, the bill carried and the age of consent was raised to sixteen. A thanksgiving meeting was held in the Exeter Hall." (CB, p. 259-60)

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